Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Chemistry Prof, NU scientist Dr. Chad Mirkin awarded 2024 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience

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Photo courtesy to the Mirkin Research Group
Mirkin has been awarded along with two others in Nanoscience, Robert Langer of MIT and Paul Alivisatos of UChicago.

Chemistry professor, Northwestern nanoscientist and director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology Dr. Chad Mirkin was awarded the 2024 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The first from NU to receive the prestigious award, Mirkin was lauded for his discovery of spherical nucleic acids, nanostructures containing a nanoparticle core and spherically distributed DNA or RNA strands, first introduced in 1996 by the Mirkin Research Group at the University, according to a Wednesday news release by Northwestern Now. 

Daily Illustration by Danny O’Grady

Since then, his discovery has advanced the field of nanomedicine, leading to the invention of the first SNA-based antiviral vaccine as well as one SNA drugs that have proven to have “remarkable potential” in stimulating the immune system in models of breast, colorectal and bladder cancers, lymphoma and melanoma. SNA’s natural absorption by cells without the need for positively charged co-carriers, unlike DNA and RNA, make them particularly effective. 

Mirkin also invented dip-pen nanolithography, a nanometer-scaled precision molecular writing tool, which was named one of the “top 100 scientific discoveries that changed the world” by National Geographic in 2014. 

“When I first found out I won The Kavli Prize, there was both excitement but also relief,” Mirkin told Northwestern Now. “To be recognized with this award, along with my incredible co-awardees, was great validation of what we’ve been trying to do at Northwestern. While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, the best is yet to come.”

Mirkin shares the award and its accompanying $1 million prize with Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Paul Alivisatos of the University of Chicago. 

Since 2008, The Kavli Prize has awarded scientists in three categories: astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. Mirkin along with his fellow laureates will be formally awarded on Sept. 3 in Oslo, Norway. 

“The kind of nanotechnology research Chad and his colleagues at the IIN are engaged in directly supports two University priorities: the biosciences and sustainability,” University President Michael Schill said in a Northwestern Now video. “Chad and his team have made Northwestern a leading center for nanotechnology research and investment.” 

Mirkin founded the IIN in 2000, which has since brought in over $1.2 billion to support research, education and infrastructure at NU.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the proven effectiveness of the SNA drug in various cancers. The drug has been proven to have remarkable potential in stimulating the immune system in those various cancer models. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @shreyasrin

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